Positive and Negative Posttraumatic Change Following Childhood Sexual Abuse Are Associated With Youths’ Adjustment Article

Simon, VA, Smith, E, Fava, N et al. (2015). Positive and Negative Posttraumatic Change Following Childhood Sexual Abuse Are Associated With Youths’ Adjustment . 20(4), 278-290. 10.1177/1077559515590872

cited authors

  • Simon, VA; Smith, E; Fava, N; Feiring, C

fiu authors

abstract

  • Meanings made of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) experiences are important to psychosocial adjustment. The current study examined adolescents’ and young adults’ perceptions of posttraumatic change (PTC) in the self, relationships, sexuality, and worldviews attributed to prior CSA experiences. We sought to document the prevalence of positive and negative PTC and examine their unique and joint associations with psychosocial adjustment. Participants included 160 youth with confirmed cases of CSA (73% female; 8–14 years at abuse discovery) who were part of a longitudinal study of the long-term effects of CSA. Six years after discovery, youth were interviewed about their abuse experiences. Interviews were coded for the valence and strength of PTC. The majority of youth reported PTC, and negative changes were more frequent and stronger than positive changes. Controlling for age, gender, abuse severity, and negative PTC, positive PTC was associated with lower abuse stigmatization for all youth. Controlling for age, gender, abuse severity, and positive PTC, negative PTC was associated with greater abuse stigmatization, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual problems, and dating aggression for all youth. Relations of positive PTC with depression and support from friends and romantic partner were moderated by negative PTC, such that positive PTC was associated with better adjustment for youth with low versus high levels of negative PTC. Results highlight the importance of both negative and positive PTC for understanding meanings made of CSA experiences and their implications for psychosocial adjustment and intervention.

publication date

  • November 1, 2015

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 278

end page

  • 290

volume

  • 20

issue

  • 4